On my mind


We struggle with the concept of how we should be living here. Many people are living on one meal a day and yet we eat well, have good clothes and a sensational house (in comparison). We have holidays in Mwanza and stay in a hotel - our week away could pay an entire year of nursing college for someone. So should we eat less? Not go on holidays and give more money away. Or do we need to enjoy small luxuries in order to sustain us to carry on our work here??? We had a brief discussion about it with some other Aussie Missionaries we met up with Mwanza then we shared our thoughts with a local pastor here. He knew of a lady missionary (from the past) who lived a VERY simple and poor life in Africa and lived only on beans. He said she did it so people would not ask her for money. But he said as a result she was very unwell a lot of the time and he thought it was silly.

So I guess again like so many things it comes down to motives. If we chose to not enjoy the corn flakes and the coffee but instead use that money to buy food and seed for others that is a good thing. But maybe the corn flakes and the coffee are small luxuries that make our lives here just a little more comfortable and allow us to stay and carry on God’s work here.

Today for instance, I sat at the market and watched two young girls sifting through the dirt under the bags of beans for stray beans that had been dropped. They were in dirty tatty clothes yet they were happy and dancing and smiling together. Finally they spotted me and came and asked for some money. Instead of money I gave them some of my beans - more than they would find in hours.

While I had been watching these girls for about 15 minutes, two other people came to my window asking for money. The first was a boy about 15 who has asked me before for 2000Tsh for his offering at church the next day. The other was an older lady who wanted 350Tsh for a cup of chai. Now who knows whether the 2000Tsh would ever make it to the plate and I later found out that a cup of chai is 100Tsh. So should I give to everyone??? Even when they lie about what they need it for and how much it costs??

Then I went to town and bought our usual cartoon of toilet paper (36 rolls) for 11,000Tsh. The inequality of life here kills me and I am really worried about how I will react when we get home.

I think about how we haggle over the price of things here - over usually $1 or $2. How we think 25,000Tsh (about $16) for a football jersey is too much and haggle till we only pay 10,000Tsh ($7). Where in Australia could you buy a soccer jersey for $7?

Then I get a student at my door who needs 10,000Tsh for a journey home to visit with his sister. He has a hen to sell but knows it is not worth 10,000Tsh so he begs us please to help him by buying his hen for the 10,000Tsh anyway. Remember I have just spent 11,000Tsh on toilet paper!!!!

Who am I to turn away the boy at my door who asks for 2000Tsh to buy flour for ugali and small fish to feed his 4 brothers and sisters as they have no food at home and then walk inside and eat a meal of rice and meat and vegetables? Or the man who asks for 2000Tsh to take his baby to the hospital for medicine for malaria??? Who am I to choose who gets my help and who does not?? Who am I to choose to send one student to nursing school but say no I won’t help the next?

I know I cannot help everyone and I only see the very tip of the iceberg, but I struggle with knowing what to do. Our supporters have been so generous and it is a wonderful problem to have to have so much to give and yet to struggle with who to give it too. I can only pray for God’s guidance and wisdom. He brings these people to me so He knows what they need. I pray that the people we help see this as a sign of our love for them just as Christ loved us and don’t just see us as the bank.

 

Time Difference

We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own.~

Ben Sweetland
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